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Revoke Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar Award given to Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar

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Dear Brothers and Sisters

 
Yesterday, on Raksha Bandhan, millions of sisters tied Rakhi to their brothers’ wrists and the brothers pledged to protect their sisters. Today, I along with millions of tribal sisters in India, seek your help and support in protecting our dignity and to be viewed as equals.

 
I am Aradhana Besra and I work in an MNC in New Delhi. I come from Dumka District in Jharkhand. I belong to the Santhal Tribe which is spread across Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa and many other states.

 
The people of Santhal Tribe in Jharkhand are protesting over the immoral and untrue depictions of the Santhals in the books written by a writer.  The books also stereotype Santhal women as libidinous, promiscuous and of easy virtues.

 
I find people sneering at me and commenting behind my back, when they come to know that I belong to the Santhal tribe. I was not aware of the reason, till a friend confided in me that they read the book "The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey" and claim to know all about the Santhals and their lifestyle and culture.

 
This is because the writer, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar is a Santhal himself and claims to be the “Voice of the Santhals” in media and journals. He is a Jharkhand Government doctor by profession; which makes people accept his writings as authentic and true account of the Santhal culture. His book depicts the Santhal women in a very demeaning and undignified manner. Also, explicit sexual acts are described in the book in a very salacious, lascivious as well as in a disgusting manner. These  portray the Santhal community as primitive and similar to the way baboons and apes are shown in popular educational TV channels.


It is shocking that the SAHITYA AKADEMI had conferred the 2015 YUVA PURASKAR to this writer, Dr. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, for a book which denigrates the Santhal women while showing them in bad light. The book also shows racist profiling of a large community of tribals.

It is unfortunate that he is supported by cabal of prominent writers who want to suppress the voice of the Santhals who are protesting. It is surprising that many of these authors are those who returned the Sahitya Akademi awards some time back protesting against “Intolerance”.


Like me, lakhs of Santhal women must be facing this humiliation. All because a writer took the liberty of portraying them as he wished. Due to such stereotyping, tribal women often become victims of eve-teasing and at worse, even rapes.

 
Please help me and our people to live a life of dignity and equality. Our tribal people have already started protesting in Jharkhand, and it is taking the shape of a mass protest. Please give a supporting hand to our struggle.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Please help protect the dignity of millions of your sisters.  Please sign my petition and request the Minister of Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, to instruct Sahitya Akademi to withdraw this Award.

 

Thank you for your support,

Aradhana Besra



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